How To Be An Emotionally Intelligent Parent?

by Dr. Shanthi Thomas

All of us agree that parenting is not easy. It is mostly a roller coaster ride that is scary and exciting at the same time. One factor that will help parents to navigate their parenting journey in an effective way is emotional intelligence. In fact, emotionally intelligent parents are successful in raising emotionally intelligent children. So how do we become emotionally intelligent parents? Let us see:

1. Understand: do not judge

When a child is throwing a temper tantrum or when a teenager is unusually moody, no amount of good advice or punishment will make things better. Only patient listening and understanding will. Such understanding will get you access to what is really going on inside your child’s head, and build a connection. It is not only in difficult situations that the parent has to listen. Emotionally intelligent parents will build a bond with their child that is fostered by active listening and open communication on a regular basis. If your teenager does not talk to you, do not despair. Let her know that you are there for her if she needs to talk and take care of her needs.

2. Discipline with rules: not moods

What makes discipline effective is consistency. The rules that parents set in the family cannot change according to their moods or mental states. Some parents are very lenient when they are in a good mood, and very strict when they are in a bad mood. This confuses children, and needless to say, makes the disciplinary rules ineffective. Being consistent makes parents predictable, and that is something kids always need.

3. Take care of yourselves

Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs known to mankind. It does take a toll on the mother and the father. Emotionally intelligent parents realize this, and take care of themselves, since they know that their own well-being is very important. They also understand that if they suffer from a burnout, it is the children who will be mostly affected. Therefore, an emotionally intelligent parent will find time to take a walk, spend quality time with the partner, go for a spa or join friends for an outing.

4. Establish a connection

One of the most important tasks of parenting is establishing a connection with your children. Emotionally intelligent parents make time to connect with their children, considering it a priority. Fulfilling children’s needs – emotional, spiritual and physical – creates and maintains the bond.  It is fostered through open communication, physical touch and cuddling, doing activities together, and spending quality time as a family.

5. Let them face difficult situations

Being overly protective about your children is not healthy for them. Children get mentally and emotionally strong when they struggle with adversities. Time and again, research has found that children who are exposed to conflict turn out to be more emotionally intelligent than those who are not. The only caveat is that if your child has anxiety problems, you need to support him at every stage while he is going through troubles. At any cost, do not shield your child from difficulties such as facing an angry teacher or being told off by an elderly neighbor for trespassing on his property.

6. Don’t take it personally

When a child says hurtful words or disobeys, do not take it personally. It is rarely an attempt against undermining your authority or disregarding your concern; it is just a way for the child to give vent to his strong emotions. It always helps to take a step back when you find yourself too embroiled in a situation where your child is displaying highly emotional behaviour. Never take it personally.  In fact, when you see children’s behaviour as part of the natural process of growing up, you can be more at peace with being a parent.

7. Never lose sight of the big picture

Caught up in the day-to-day grind of our mundane lives, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. When children behave badly, it helps to think that there are plenty of times when they actually behave very well, and this one instance does not make them irredeemable. One instance of disrespect or disobedience from your child does not make you a bad parent or make your child the world’s worst kid. Take things in perspective and never lose sight of the bigger picture. This is an important skill that every parent should teach their kids too.


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